The Scratch Competitions
THE GOLD MEDALS
There are four Gold Medals, namely the Clifton, Ladies, Thistleton and Manchester and these are awarded for the lowest gross score on the day concerned.
In the earliest days of the club, Hoylake’s two greatest players John Ball Jr and Harold Hilton managed to overcome the limitations of travel in those days to come and plunder many gold medals. Elsewhere they won between them three Open Championships and twelve Amateur Championships. Here at Lytham St Annes they won no less than forty-four gold medals. E A Lassen, who won the Amateur in 1908, won thirteen gold medals.
In later years R W Crummack won nine gold medals as well as winning a ‘fiver’ from Bobby Jones when he played here in 1944. English International J R Smith won seventeen gold medals. Playing in one medal Smith reached the turn in 29 and is said to have then caught a train to St Annes and from there a taxi to the Clubhouse as ‘he didn’t want to spoil the round.’
T W G Johnson, known as Pat, was Captain in 1956 and won eleven gold medals. An Irish golf and soccer international, he was once drawn against the great Cyril Tolley in a match here between the club and the Oxford & Cambridge Golfing Society. Tolley, who was the current Amateur Champion, enquired ‘Where’s my rabbit?’ ‘Here I am’ said Pat and then beat Tolley by two holes.
In more recent years the picture has been dominated by Michael Noon who has won forty-two medals, almost twice as many as any other player. In 1992 he looked like creating a major upset leading the British Seniors Open ahead of Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Bob Charles well into the third round before the dream faded.
THE CLIFTON GOLD MEDAL 1889
At the Annual General Meeting on the 25th February 1889, the Secretary informed the members that Lady Eleanor Cecily Clifton wished to present a gold medal, value £25, to be contested annually by the best scratch golfers of the Club. The first winner was Mr W. E. Fairlie, who won with a gross score of 90.
The original medal bears the coat of arms of the Clifton family. The six annulets of the Lowther family are on the right, the 3 Mullets of the Clifton family on the left with the cross of Moline of the Sefton family. Above is the arm embowed in armour holding a sword and below the motto ‘death or glory’ from the Clifton coat of arms all on a background of crossed golf clubs.
This medal is played for at the Spring Meeting and is presented at the Annual Dinner.
THE LADIES GOLD MEDAL 1891
From its inception the Lytham & St Annes Golf Club played a major role in the formative years of Ladies Amateur golf. In 1893 there were early moves afoot to form a national ladies union and hold an amateur championship: a circular letter from Wimbledon GC suggested this be arranged.
At the same time the ladies of St Annes announced their intention to hold a competition for a challenge prize of fifty guineas. To avoid schism or conflict, a happy compromise was reached whereby the St Annes Ladies would forego their competition in return for which the fledgling Ladies Union would hold their first Championship here. The final was between Isette Pearson, of the Ladies Section here who created the handicapping system later used by ladies and men, and Lady Margaret Scott who won.
Early in 1891 the Lady Subscribers ‘were thanked for the handsome present of a gold medal’. The original medal is circular in shape and embossed with crossed golf clubs.
This medal is played for in the competition for the Walmsley Peace Cup which is also the first round of the Pearson Claret Jug and is presented at the St Andrews Dinner.
THE THISTLETON GOLD MEDAL 1891
The medal was presented to the club by W P Miller of Thistleton in 1891.
The village of Thistleton is mentioned in the Domesday book as Thiltilton meaning ‘a village where thistles grow’ and was held by the Butler family until the early 17th century. By the end of the 19th century much of the area was owned by W P Miller and he built the splendid residence of Thistleton Lodge for himself and his family in 1907.
The original medal shows a wolf’s head erased with a ragged staff in its mouth and the motto ‘Sibimet merces industria’ - ‘diligence is its own reward’ - from the Miller coat of arms.
This medal is played for at the Second Summer Meeting and is presented at the St Andrews Dinner.
THE MANCHESTER GOLD MEDAL 1889
From its earliest beginnings the Club has had strong links with the gentleman of industrial Manchester.
In 1889, 38 club members residing in or near Manchester presented a gold medal to be played for annually. On the original medal, the crest is a terrestrial globe with seven bees representing the continents and on the shield a ship in full sail from the Manchester City coat of arms.
Indeed in the formative years of the Club the excellent rail links to Manchester and the presence of numerous members from the area meant that the Club regularly placed the balloted starting times in the Thursday addition of the preceding Manchester Guardian newspaper. The Lancashire and Yorkshire railway also put on a special train, at reduced fares, from Manchester (42 miles) on Saturdays for the convenience of the golfers and a golfer’s ticket was eventually available.
It can be argued that the Clubhouse of today is in large measure down to the vision and wealth of these Manchester members. When the new links was constructed in 1896, there was a need for a Clubhouse.
At that time, in the days of the gutta percha ball and awkward hickory shafted clubs, golf had not caught on as it was to do in the decades that followed. Other clubs built modest Clubhouses commensurate with the needs of the time.
These industrialists looked for something more in keeping with their lifestyles and commissioned the architect of the recently built Royal Liverpool Clubhouse, whose grandeur in turn reflected the wealth of the Liverpool dock magnates.
So it was that in 1898 our Clubhouse was opened with due ceremony by the Marquis of Lorne.
Apart from some additions at the South end to create the current Entrance Hall, Secretary’s office and Members’ Bar, it was in 1898 largely as it is now and is viewed by many as one of the great Clubhouses in these Islands.
This medal is played for at the Autumn Meeting and is presented at the St Andrews Dinner.
THE SILVER IRON
The Silver Iron was presented in 1892 by John Talbot Clifton of Lytham Hall. In 1890 at the age of twenty-one, Talbot Clifton had been elected Honorary President of the Club, taking over the position from his uncle Wykeham Clifton. As a six year old on 31st March 1875, Talbot Clifton had ceremonially laid the foundation stone of the St. Anne’s hotel, which in 1886 became the Club’s first clubhouse (before the Club moved to the present location).
In the 1920’s, Talbot’s wife Violet was instrumental in securing the designation of ‘Royal’ for the Club. She was a close confidante of Her Majesty Queen Mary and was often invited to take tea with her at Buckingham Palace. Violet, in her opus magnus ‘The Book of Talbot’, tells how ‘From across the Atlantic famous golfers came to play on the Lytham St Anne’s Golf Course.’ This probably refers to the Northern British Open played here in 1923. She then reveals that ‘Some years later Talbot and Violet were able, through the influence of one in a high place, to have the designation of ‘Royal Golf Club’ conferred by charter upon the Course.’ Talbot Clifton remained President of the Cub until his death in 1928.
The Silver Iron is displayed in its own case in the Club Room. Above the Silver Iron itself is a carved wooden case presented by Sir George Mellor in 1922.
The ornate carving at the top of the case refers to the Lytham & St Annes Golf Club as the Royal designation was still some four years off. Inside the case are the signatures of all the winners of the event, beginning with the inaugural competition in 1892.
Included are some very famous names such as H. H. Hilton and John Ball junior who won the trophy eight times and four times respectively in the 12 years between 1893 and 1904.
The first winner of the Silver Iron in 1892 was George F. Smith who won the trophy for the last time in 1910 with a record score of 147 when he was fifty years old.
In the post war era Michael Noon’s twelve victories between 1964 and 1987 constitute a remarkable tribute to his ability and consistency.
He also won no less than thirty-three gold medals between 1965 and 1998 and it can confidently be predicted that his haul of wins in the scratch events will never be matched. In 1987 he won all four gold medals and the Silver Iron.
Michael Noon’s record in our Scratch competitions reads as follows:
|Clifton gold medal
||’69, ’72, ’73, ’76, ’77, ‘79’ ’82, ’83, ’86, ’87 and ’90
|Manchester gold medal
||’65, ’66, ’68, ’74, ’77, ’78, ’79, ’80, ’83, ’84, ‘85’, ’87, ’91, ’98
|Ladies gold medal
||’65, ’72, ’76, ’79, ’86 and ’87
|Thistleton gold medal
||’67, ’70, ’75, ’77, ’78, ’84, ’87, ’90, ’91, ’93, ’94 and ’95
|’64, ’65, ’70, ’73, ’75,’79, ’80, ’82, ’83, ’85, ’86 and ‘87
The Silver Iron is the Club’s premier scratch stroke play prize.
It is played for over thirty-six holes on the one day.
The prize is presented at the Annual Dinner.